Medicare Local one month on: The technology behind Brisbane's first facility

The first Medicare Local in Australia will play a key role in the adoption of electronic health records, according to the CEO of Metro North Brisbane Medicare Local, Abbe Anderson.

With the Lutwyche site up and running, Anderson is turning her attention to expansion and the personally controlled health record (PCHR).

“We are one of the key providers behind the electronic health records,” she said.

“The types of things we’re testing out locally is enrolling general practices so we help them to get their Individual Healthcare Identifiers, so all of us in Australia have one of these but they need to be put into the system and used, and its one of the big challenges to organise this.”

Anderson, spoke to Computerworld Australia about the IT challenges that come part and parcel with being the first Medicare Local opened by the Federal Department of Health and Ageing.

“The first Medicare Locals were established in July this year and we were the first one... Locals are meant to take on the work that the old divisions of general practice used to do,” Anderson said.

“At the moment we have 42 staff but one of the things with the Medicare Local’s is that we’ve expanded our geography and we’re planning on opening a second site at North Lakes.”

She said the technology systems were a cornerstone of the organisation’s success.

“We have a wide range of stakeholder organisations and health services providers and our key role is to communicate with them.”

Partnering with Australian vendor Polymorphic Solutions, the Local has worked on developing an existing internal database using ChilliDB.

“Historically, [our use of] ChilliDB goes back eight or so years ago to when we had the divisions of general practice here,” she said.

“We helped create a CMS database and it has now evolved into a more complex tool that we still use but it now has more patient modules like mental health programs as a method of keeping track of patients.”

Medicare was a big winner at the federal government’s 2011 budget, with the Gillard government allocating $576.2 million to improve ICT at Centrelink, Medicare and the Child Support Agency.

Follow Lisa Banks on Twitter: @CapricaStar

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